Yikuang, Prince Qing
|The Prince Qing|
|Prime Minister of Qing Dynasty|
8 May 1911 – 16 November 1911
|Leader of Zongli Yamen|
12 April 1884 – 29 September 1894
|Preceded by||Prince Gong|
|Succeeded by||Prince Gong|
29 May 1898 – 10 June 1900
|Preceded by||Prince Gong|
|Succeeded by||Prince Duan|
29 September 1900 – 24 July 1901
|Preceded by||Prince Duan|
16 November 1838|
|Died||28 January 1917
|Prince Qing of the First Rank
|Prince Qing of the First Rank|
|Predecessor||himself, as Prince of the Second Rank|
|Prince Qing of the Second Rank|
|Predecessor||himself, as Beili|
|Successor||himself, as Prince of the First Rank|
|Beili (Prince Qing branch)|
|Predecessor||himself, as Beizi|
|Successor||himself, as Prince of the Second Rank|
|Beizi (Prince Qing branch)|
|Predecessor||himself, as General Fuguo|
|Successor||himself, as Beizi|
(another four wives)
|Prince Qingmi of the First Rank
|House||House of Aisin-Gioro|
Yikuang (16 November 1838 - 28 January 1917), titled Prince Qing (Prince Ch'ing in Wade–Giles) or more formally Prince Qing of the First Rank (慶親王), was a Manchu noble and politician of the late Qing Dynasty. He was the first Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet (內閣總理大臣) in the Qing Dynasty. Yikuang and his son Zaizhen were both notorious for their rampant political corruption.
Yikuang was born of the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan as the eldest son of Mianxing (綿性), who held the title of "Duke Who Assists the Nation" (輔國公). His grandfather was the Qianlong Emperor's 17th son Yonglin (永璘), who was the first in line of the "Prince Qing of the First Rank" (慶親王) peerage, one of the Qing Dynasty's 12 "Iron-cap" princely titles.
Born with relatively little status, Yikuang was disgraced in his young age when he took in concubines during a mandatory mourning period after his father's death. Despite losing all his titles, he later married one of Empress Dowager Cixi's relatives and became close to Cixi, who granted him the title of a "Prince of the Second Rank" (郡王). In the late 1890s, Yikuang was sent to replace Prince Chun in overseeing the construction of the Imperial Summer Palace. Yikuang was involved in the "sale" of official positions, in which a person could obtain an official post through Yikuang's recommendation by paying him a certain sum of money. Yikuang became a "go-to person" for backroom deals in politics.
During the Boxer Rebellion from 1899 to 1901, Yikuang was extremely pro-foreign. On the other hand, Prince Duan was pro-Boxer and anti-foreign. Two factions were formed in the Qing court - one comprised a number of "moderate" pro-foreign politicians, including Yikuang, while another xenophobic faction was headed by Prince Duan. However, Yikuang was discredited for his pro-foreign stance when a multi-national military force marched into Beijing during the Seymour Expedition in 1900. Yikuang was immediately replaced by the "reactionary" Prince Duan as leader of the Zongli Yamen (the Qing Dynasty's de facto Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Chinese imperial forces and Boxers, under Prince Duan's command, defeated Seymour's first expedition. Yikuang even wrote letters to foreigners, inviting them to take shelter in the Zongli Yamen during the Siege of the International Legations, when Prince Duan's men besieged the Beijing Legation Quarter. Another pro-foreign statesman, Ronglu, offered foreigners escorts when his forces were supposed to be killing foreigners. Yikuang and Prince Duan's forces even clashed several times. He ordered his own Bannermen to attack the Boxers and the Muslim Kansu braves.
Yikuang was then sent by Empress Dowager Cixi, along with veteran diplomat Li Hongzhang, to reach an agreement with the Eight-Nation Alliance after the foreign powers invaded China in 1901. Yikuang and Li Hongzhang signed the Boxer Protocol on 7 September 1901. During the conference, Yikuang was seen as a representative while the actual negotiations were done by Li Hongzhang. Returning to Beijing as a senior member of the imperial court, Yikuang persisted in his old ways, and was despised by not only reformers, but also by moderate court officials.
He became the head of the Wai-wu-pu, the successor to the Zongli Yamen; in discussions over Manchuria, he "was bolder in resisting the Russians [than Li Hongzhang], though he was in the last resort weak and unable to hold out against pressure. The Japanese regarded him as a 'nonentity' but this judgement may have been influenced by the fact that he did not often accept their advice." He was also promoted to the Grand Council in 1903. 
After the deaths of Empress Dowager Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor in 1908, two year-old Puyi ascended the throne under the regency of his father, Zaifeng, Prince Chun. In 1911, the prince regent abolished the Grand Council, replacing it with a body that earned the nickname of the "Imperial Cabinet." Yikuang became the first Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet (內閣總理大臣) and formed his own Prince Qing Cabinet (慶親王內閣). After the Wuchang Uprising broke out in October 1911, Yikuang offered Yuan Shikai the post of Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet while he appointed himself Chief Executive of the Bide Court (弼德院). He and Yuan Shikai later persuaded Empress Dowager Longyu abdicate on behalf of Puyi, which she did in February of 1912.
After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, the Republic of China was established. Yikuang and his son Zaizhen amassed large amounts of money and moved from Beijing to the British concession in Tianjin. They later moved back to the Prince Qing Residence (慶王府) at No. 3, Dingfu Street in the Xicheng District of Beijing.
Yikuang died of illness in 1917 in his residence. The abdicated Qing emperor Puyi gave him the posthumous title of "Prince Qingmi of the First Rank" (慶密親王). In the same year, Yikuang's son Zaizhen inherited the title of "Prince Qing of the First Rank" with the approval of President Li Yuanhong.
- Father: Mianxing (綿性; 1814 - 1879), Duke Who Assists the Nation (輔國公).
- Lady Hegiya (合佳氏)
- Lady Liugiya (劉佳氏)
- (Four other wives)
- Zaizhen, Yikuang's eldest son, born to Lady Hegiya.
- Zaibo (載搏), Yikuang's second son, born to Lady Liugiya.
- Third son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- Fourth son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- Zailun (載倫), Yikuang's fifth son, born to Lady Liugiya. He married Sun Baoqi's daughter, while his own daughter married the son of Empress Dowager Cixi's younger brother Guixiang (桂祥).
- Sixth son, name unknown, died at a young age.
- (12 daughters)
- Peter Harrington (2001). Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion. Osprey Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 1-84176-181-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Diana Preston (2000). The boxer rebellion: the dramatic story of China's war on foreigners that shook the world in the summer of 1900. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 70. ISBN 0-8027-1361-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Larry Clinton Thompson (2009). William Scott Ament and the Boxer Rebellion: heroism, hubris and the "ideal missionary". McFarland. p. 67. ISBN 0-7864-4008-2. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Paul A. Cohen (1997). History in three keys: the boxers as event, experience, and myth. Columbia University Press. p. 49. ISBN 0-231-10650-5. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Frank Moore Colby, Harry Thurston Peck, Edward Lathrop Engle (1901). The International year book: a compendium of the world's progress during the year 1898-1902. Dodd, Mead & company. p. 207. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Appletons' annual cyclopædia and register of important events of the year ..., Volume 5. D. Appleton & Co. 1901. p. 112. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Ian Nish, The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War (Longman, 1985; ISBN 0582491142), p. 140.
- Evelyn Rawski (1998) The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Institutions University of California Press, pg. 125
Yikuang, Prince QingBorn: February 1836 Died: January 1918
|Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet
8 May 1911 – 1 November 1911
This article incorporates text from The Century, Volume 70, a publication from 1905 now in the public domain in the United States.